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Working New Yorkers eligible for food stamps are often deterred from the program by bureaucratic hurdles, according to a new report from the Urban Justice Center. Researchers examined 1,500 enrollment records from the Human Resources Administration (HRA), the city’s welfare agency, and interviewed a random sample of these clients to investigate why they weren’t accessing the support. They found that working families often fail to sign up for the program because they can’t take time off to apply for benefits, a process that requires one or more in-person office visits. The resulting report, “A Better Recipe for New York City: Less Red Tape, More Food on the Table,” urges greater flexibility. HRA could, for example, greatly increase access by extending office hours and allowing more people to conduct eligibility interviews over the phone, an option that’s now available only to the elderly and disabled. Rebecca Widom, the report’s main author, praised some of HRA’s small-scale initiatives, including one that allows community-based organizations to pre-screen potential clients for program eligibility. “It’s just a matter of expanding them to make sure more people have access,” she said. (M. Risley) [01/30]

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